Learning to write like a scientist: Coauthoring as an enculturation task

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Abstract

This multiple case study examined the coauthorship process in research laboratories of different university departments. The study focused on two cases comprising five writing teams, one in biochemistry and microbiology and four in earth and ocean sciences. The role of the research supervisor, the role of the student (graduate and postgraduate), the interaction of the supervisor and the student, the activities and processes inherent in the coauthorship process, and the student's beliefs, expertise, scientific writing, and entry into an academic discourse community were documented utilizing multiple sources of data and methods. Several activities and processes were found to be common across all coauthorship teams, including aspects of planning, drafting, and revising. Elements of scientific and writing expertise, facets of enculturation into scientific research and discourse communities, academic civility, and the dynamics of collaborative groups also were apparent. There was healthy tension and mutual respect in the research groups as they attempted to make sense of science, report their results clearly and persuasively, and share the responsibilities of expertise. The novice scientists came to appreciate that the writing, editing, and revising process influenced the quality of the science as well as the writing. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 41: 637–668, 2004

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